The Bowery Presents
Escort

Escort

St. Lucia, Druzzi (Of The Rapture) DJ Set, Special Guest Appearance by Penguin Prison

Sat, October 27, 2012

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

Webster Hall

New York, NY

$20 advance / $25 day of show

This event is 18 and over

Escort
Escort
ESCORT is big. Literally. Enjoying accolades ranging from the New York Times to Pitchfork, the seventeen-member "disco orchestra" features an incredible cast of musicians including founders/producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balis, and fronted by lead singer Adeline Michle.

Escort burst on to the scene in 2006 with a string of critically acclaimed 12"s that included future classics "Starlight" and "All Through The Night", a pair of DJ staples that get still get plenty of play on dance-floors. As DJs nursed their electro-clash hangover with a seemingly never ending stream of disco edits, Escort stood out, in part, by creating dance music the old fashioned way: with impeccable production, musicianship, and songwriting.

The following several years saw them bring the same uncompromising approach to their live show. In an era where dance music is dominated by samples and computers, Escort took a sprawling ensemble to the stage and developed a reputation as one of New York's most compelling live acts, capable of performing their elaborate recordings note for note. Their extravagant New York City shows prompted a cover story in the Village Voice declaring them "poised to become Gotham's premier live dance act" and reviews of their shows in Time Out New York and the New York Post auspiciously labeled them the "city's best live band."

Escort's debut LP has finally arrived, the culmination of years of painstaking work in the studio. And the wildly enthusiastic critical reception suggests it was more than worth the wait. Pitchfork raved, "Escort isn't just the pinnacle of 21st- century of disco fetishism. It's a great pop album." Spin called it the "Best Disco Album of 2011... disco at it's urbane, hedonistic best." and Rolling Stone called it "a wickedly catchy, note-perfect return to the heyday of disco."

The entire album is steeped in the venerable tradition of clubland's holy trinity - New York, Chicago, and Detroit - but it seems particularly reminiscent of mutant-pop luminaries such as Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Ian Dury, who somehow managed to translate their sardonic sensibilities to the dance-floor. And by embracing the legacy of these forward-thinking but classic acts, they have yet managed to create something strikingly new.

The LP's opener "Chameleon" is a perfect example: a three-act play about the French serial impostor Frederic Bourdin, set to a beat that's equal parts Thriller and the Tom Tom Club. The tracks, "Make Me Over" and "Why oh Why" seem to explore the lost possibilities of another era, rather than simply trying to re-create it. The 1937 standard "A Sailboat in the Moonlight" is twisted into a lost August Darnell classic. The album also includes the definitive versions of their 12" DJ releases - which have been remixed, remastered, rearranged, and re-recorded specially for the LP - to complete an album with absolutely no filler.

Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears recently described Escort as the "best disco you've ever heard." He just might be right.
St. Lucia
St. Lucia
Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Jean-Philip Grobler grew up performing with the Drakensberg Boys Choir School, learning everything from Bach to minimalist opera. St. Lucia was born out of a moment in early 2010 when Grobler was looking to the past for inspiration. Growing frustrated with a rock project that was starting to feel forced, he delved back into the music that had first inspired him: Fleetwood Mac, Peter Gabriel, Madonna and other songs from his youth.

When The Night, the synth-pop outfit’s full-length, expands upon St. Lucia’s unique brand of dreamy, nostalgic pop. The band recently embarked on a headline tour of the US, selling out all 23 shows (including 4 shows in New York City). And this spring, St. Lucia will serve as direct support on Foster The People’s April/May tour.

Grobler remains heavily involved in projects outside of St. Lucia, serving as producer for the debut album by Brooklyn-based labelmates HAERTS, remixing songs for bands including Passion Pit, Foster the People and Charli XCX, and collaborating with DJs ranging from The Knocks to RAC. St. Lucia has recently toured with Ellie Goulding and Charli XCX, performed at festivals including Lollapalooza, Governors Ball and Firefly, not to mention shared stages with fun., Two Door Cinema Club, Young The Giant, The Shins and more.
Special Guest Appearance by Penguin Prison
Special Guest Appearance by Penguin Prison
Even if you never find out what a Penguin Prison is, there's no denying Chris Glover aka Penguin Prison has made a brilliant record. If you're a fan of New York disco, as accessible as it is angular, all burbling bass lines, resonant rhythms, shimmering synths and heavenly melodies, then you'll love the new Penguin Prison album.

Imagine, if you will, Chic produced by James Murphy, or a collaboration between Prince and The Human League. It is some measure of Penguin Prison's skills in the studio, on vocals and in terms of songwriting, that such illusory marvels have been achieved on this superb self-titled collection, that some critics have gone as far as to hail it a modern day Off The Wall masterpiece.

"It's not a concept album about Michael," says Prison, or maybe we should call him Penguin, of his all-time hero "But it's definitely been influenced by him.".

Penguin was born, appropriately, at the dawn of electrofunk, in 1983 - the postdisco era of Peech Boys' Don't Make Me Wait and D Train's You're The One For Me - and grew up, an only child, on New York's Upper East Side with his mother, a business coach, and father, who writes handbooks on running. "It was cool," he says of his upbringing. "The best thing about growing up in New York was being around all the other people who later turned out to be successful in the same field as me."

These childhood friends included everyone from fellow contemporaries electro-disco exponent Holy Ghost!, who appears on and co-wrote tracks for the PP album, to R&B goddess Alicia Keys – the latter who attended the same performing arts school on Broadway, where he majored in vocals, even appearing in the same plays as PP.

Whilst his father wasn't into music at all, his mum preferred country - as a result, Chris loves Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams as much as he does electronica or rap. "If I had to choose one kind of music to listen to," he says, "it would be country."

To say he was an early starter would be an understatement. From the age of 10 he was singing in the local gospel choir. When he was 11, he got an agent and began recording jingles. By 12, he had learned to play guitar and was into punk rock, the American variety - bands such as Green Day, NOFX and Bad Religion. He even performed as a teen at the legendary CBGBs with his band The Museum.

When he was at NY's prestigious Bard College he had an early brush with fame when he formed a "crazy, fake boy band" called The Smartest People At Bard, which Chris describes as "a cross between Backstreet Boys and Beastie Boys". It was, he says, "a boy band format, only with rapping and singing. The lyrics made fun of that music, but hundreds of people would come and see us play live on campus. It was wild."

Encouraged by this success, he sent a CD of hip hop-inflected tracks to Q-Tip of acclaimed rappers A Tribe Called Quest, who invited Chris to meet with a label in Los Angeles. He recorded a solo album under his own name that indulged his eclectic tastes, comprising as it did every type of music under the sun, from country to African to rap. "It was pretty crazy," he laughs, "a mixture of everything. The label [Interscope] liked it but they didn't know what to do with it. It should have been filed under ‘pop' - it was all catchy choruses."

Chris became Penguin Prison at the start of 2009. It wasn't long before he earned a reputation as remixer du jour for the likes of Marina and the Diamonds, Goldfrapp and Passion Pit. He agrees that he conferred NY kudos especially on the British artists, and admits his favorite remix was for Jamiroquai, adding that the secret to a good remix is "to throw everything away from the original track and start from scratch".

It was inevitable that Chris would then make music of his own, which he began in late 2009. You can hear the spectacular results on the debut Penguin Prison album, which sounds to all intents and purposes like a Greatest Hits collection, so chock-full it is of catchy hooks and classic pop choruses. There is Multi-Millionaire, which is about "being rich even if you've got no money" and one titled Don't Fuck With My Money that features Jackson-style percussive gasps and a lyric that pushes the envelope. "I was worried it was too crazy - ‘Can I really say that?' People said leave it in, so I did. "All my lyrics are sarcastic but serious as well," he adds. "So I'm really saying ‘don't fuck with my money'! Because if you try to, it's not going to be good..."

A Funny Thing manages to be propulsive and poppy, somehow club-conscious and cerebral, evoking NY avant-disco acts past and present, from Talking Heads to LCD Soundsystem. On Golden Train what sounds like a sample from Kraftwerk's immortal Trans Europe Express is actually a late-70s toy, a little seven-inch keyboard that Chris stumbled across, called a Bee Gees rhythm machine. This was the genesis of Penguin Prison, the first track Chris wrote for the project, and it features not just the Bee Gees gadget but also drum parts sampled from Boney M. Yes, this miraculous slice of shiny, infectious, fabulous future-dance comes from those two giants of disco cheese, Bee Gees and Boney M.

Chris clearly knows what he's doing, and is in his element in the studio. The music is both programmed on computers and played by real live human beings, including Alex from Holy Ghost! "Most of it is me," explains Chris. "I tried to keep an element of the human, only using modern technology. I use ProTools as a canvas, a place to put things, but the synths I use are analogue."

The album was mostly recorded in Chris' home studio and completed in London, at State of the Ark, with producer/engineer Dan Grech-Marguerat, who has worked with Radiohead and Paul McCartney. "He tied up all the loose ends," he explains.

Throughout, Chris put his vocal training to good use, his flexible tones able to reach as high on the scale as Barry Gibb and as low as Barry White. "I treat my voice like an instrument," he says. "It's about entertaining people, really."

Penguin Prison is the album you get if you have lived your life believing that the Holy Grail in terms of pop songs is one or all of the following: Billie Jean, Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, When Doves Cry and Fast Love. It posits Penguin Prison as an American cousin to Hot Chip. It is an album about relationships, love and loathing that you can dance to. Its hi-tech rhythms and lyrics definitely place it as a pop album but the heartache might conceivably be found on a country record.

"I definitely wanted to make a pop album where every song was good and catchy and people could dance to it," decides Chris, who aims to perform his songs all over the world like a strange little impish hybrid of Jackson and Prince. "It was hard work to make, but I tried to have fun. I made sure of that. If I didn't jump around the room while I was recording a song, it didn't make the cut. Fun is the key."

Penguin Prison just released his debut self-titled record on Downtown Records on October 18, 2011.
Venue Information:
Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
New York, NY, 10003
http://www.websterhall.com/